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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Research Project #445323

Research Project: Evaluation of Symbiont Technology in Florida Citrus Groves

Location: Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research

Project Number: 8062-22410-007-045-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 17, 2023
End Date: Sep 16, 2024

Solutions to solving citrus green disease (HLB) is perhaps the most pressing need in U.S. agriculture. The HLB disease complex, the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) and ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) bacterium, has devastated Florida citrus production. The societal impact is massive as thousands of people have lost their jobs, farms and processors have gone bankrupt, and consumer industries inter-connected to citrus industry workers have also been negatively economically impacted. The causative microbe and its insect vector, CLas and ACP, are now found in California and Texas citrus trees. Growers have no options to block transmission of CLas by ACP, and tools are desperately needed in this area. Furthermore, transmission blocking tools must be tailored to the unique needs of the citrus growing states and the needs of juice, fresh fruit, and organic growers. Solutions must include protecting existing and newly planted trees, as well as delivery in an economical format suitable to each industry sector. As an insect-vector borne pathogen, methods to cure the disease in trees or block transmission represent a dead end for the bacteria and a novel solution for huanglongbing in all areas where the insect vector is found. The objective of this research is to conduct field trials to evaluate Symbiont technology as a possible solution for citrus greening disease.

We will conduct field testing to develop and optimize Symbiont technology for field performance. Field testing will be conducted at FlaRes and will include separate trials with bearing trees and newly planted trees in a randomized design. Approximately 800-1000 trees are available. Metrics will include standard measures of tree growth, yield, phytotoxicity, visual symptoms of HLB, and CLas. The cooperator will maintain the citrus groves in accordance with specifications in the EPA and APHIS permits, assist with outreach to the citrus grower community in Florida, and help the team prepare for site visits from APHIS and or field days involving other project stakeholders.